Community and Regional Planning Program


Date of this Version



Henson, Jeffrey L. Drought as a Component of Local Hazard Mitigation Plans: Are the 100 Fastest Growing Counties Ready? MCRP Thesis. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2013.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Community and Regional Planning, Major: Community and Regional Planning, Under the Supervision of Professor Zhenghong Tang. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 3, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Jeffrey Henson


Drought is one of the most destructive natural disasters that threatens nearly every environment on earth. Between 1980 and 2011 there were 16 drought events in the United States with impacts that exceeded $1 billion with an average event cost of $12.2 billion according to the National Climate Data Center. While many states have engaged in the creation of drought plans, little research has been done regarding drought planning at the local level. This research examines the local planning efforts in 62 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the United States from 2000 to 2009. It is expected that the rate of population growth and intensive land development in these counties will result in larger, more frequent demands for quality water resources while decreasing the resiliency of these counties following future drought events. In an effort to review the current preparedness level of these locations, Local Hazard Mitigation Plans were empirically evaluated using a matrix with measureable indicators. The matrix was developed to examine the integration of drought planning elements as a component of the Local Hazard Mitigation Plans. The findings of this research indicate that drought preparedness and planning, when done, is frequently fractured and lacking a comprehensiveness that is necessary for meaningful impact and effectiveness for their area. This may suggest that many municipalities remain unprepared to face drought when it strikes. Results of this research should serve as a snapshot of what is currently being done in the field of drought planning in the realm of local planners and emergency managers, and is hoped to help increase awareness of changes that could be made to improve preparation, resiliency, and decrease the stress effects of future droughts.

Adviser: Zhenghong Tang